Sonnet to the Beloved’s Rising
Wild wind rushes across open spaces.
Nothing is here, only the passing of
time, silence and boredom. Nothing but the
collapse of memory and hope.
The wind moans, and rises. A gust of breath
breaks the cobweb of memory.
What hope is there when a wisp of whisper
can destroy love’s flimsy materials?
Light deceives. False hopes numb. Suddenly
slanting rain lashes at the air, slashes
the trees, and turn mud-gray the brown earth.
Every lifeform swoons slowly. Then—who would have known?—
rising amid, unannounced,
you come, O many-petalled sacred flower of vermillion!
Masungit na Panahon
Love Song Occasioned by Flood, War & Famine
For example, if you were in Rwanda
among those trampled or sliced by machete,
I would understand if you couldn’t come.
Or if you were left behind in Somalia
clawing the barren breast of the desert,
I would understand your utter absence here.
But you are here in the eye of the storm,
here in the bitter heart of the floodwater,
so where’s the flame occasioned by your warmth?
Where’s the warmth of the nearness of you?
Your absence is everywhere, on all corners
of Manila the seeds of bitterness.
Ah, you will tell me lies again, I know
you’ve been lying all along, thought the radio
speaks of masungit na panahon, and you
talk of the broken bridge between here and there.
Imagine you are bleeding in Kigali,
your wounds sobbing for my compassionate touch
imagine you’re starving in Mogadishu,
your mouth crying for the food in my hand,
and I’ll take away the fire from your stove,
turn a deaf ear to the cry of your blood,
never bridge the distance to your lying heart,
knowing the inconstancy of love.
Indeed, some things are constant in our world:
a world of negation, of absence, of fear.
Still I will wait till you finish this chilling space,
till the flood receds, and the blood dries up,
till the radio speaks the truth, and hunger
is but a memory of the fruit and the seed,
and in all the dry land of Luzon
I will wait for you, till tenderness returns.